John Beilein was pleased with how his team reacted to a slow start against Illinois on the road. The Wolverines escaped Champaign with a ten-point win over the Illini to move to 1-0 in league play.
Opening Statement: “It’s tough to win on the road, it’s tough to win in the Big Ten. I thought at the beginning of the game we were back on our heels and it did not look good, but credit these guys for how hard they worked defensively to get it. We had to get stops, we just had to get stops and we were able to do that. So in the back of my mind was always last year, we didn’t have a lead that big, but it was big coming down the stretch and we sort of gave it right back to them. We were able to make some foul shots, Caris made some plays, Derrick banked in a three, but it we deserve one of those every now and then.”
On Mark Donnal: “We’ve been seeing him make progress, for some reason when people get on that scout team they just play. He was Finke all week and we couldn’t stop him. He was picking-and-popping, knocking them down, going after the backboard. I just told him before the game, ‘you’ve had four hours to prove that you can play in this game and you did’. That’s the mentality I want our guys to have whether you are on the scout team or alternating in the top-nine. You get two hour sto prove what you can do and he did it. Ricky played, Moe played and then we wanted to keep him on the floor the rest of the time. He’s been more up and down in practice the last week or so but there have been times that he’s been a better player than he’s played in practice.”
On the Illini press: “If you press teams like us, we’re going to get a wide open three. If you’re going to double us in the full court, we’er one pass from a wide open three or a basket.”
More on Donnal: “It’s big. Everybody has to earn everything. Everybody that you see play in games earned that opportunity and now Mark is really understanding as a third-year guy that I have to earn that playing time. Coach isn’t changing until I show what I can do in practice.”
On Aubrey Dawkins: “Aubrey’s defense was really good today. When we had Caris and Zak both resting at the same time and the score went from 7 to 12 or something like that, that was a great sign for our program. I’ve never seen Aubrey play probably that intensity on defense.”
On others stepping up: “People are going to load up on Caris. They are going to load up and make other people beat them, you can’t load up too much off Duncan and Zak can shoot, we all know he’s been a dagger shooter for a while. He’s started to straighten it out but it gets in your mind. He missed two shots tonight that were in-and-out, both looked tremendous coming off his hand. He could have been four-for-four today.”
On turnovers: “A couple of them they really did a great job at getting the ball out of our hands. The double-dribble by Aubrey happens, I think we had another where he fell to the ground and walked, it happens. It doesn’t lead to a run-out basket. Every time we picked it up and they jammed down on us and it was all-ball, it was a basket or a three at the other end. It’s one thing turning it over in a deadball, you turn it over in a live ball. We paid for that in the first half.